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Much, Many, or a Lot of?

Updated: Feb 20

Much, many, and a lot of are all used to talk about large quantities. Although these words are very similar, there are some key differences. Let’s take a look at what makes these words distinct.


Much can be used with uncountable nouns and is most often used in negative sentences and questions.


I don’t have much time. (negative)

How much water should I drink per day? (question)

English learners often use much in positive sentences by mistake. Please note that much is almost never used in this way in regular conversation.


I have much water. (incorrect)

I have plenty of water. (correct)

I have a lot of water. (correct)

It is possible to use much in positive sentences, however it is formal. Usually, people don’t speak like this in their daily lives. It is more common to find this formal style in writing.


There is much concern for the safety of the county. (formal style only)


Many is used with countable plural nouns and is, like much, used frequently in negative sentences and questions.


There aren’t many people here. (negative)

How many times do I have to tell you? (question)

Many can also be used in positive sentences, but it is also a formal style.


Many politicians feared the outcome of the next election.

The cave contained many prehistoric artifacts.